Mark Isham, guest of honor at the 2022 World Soundtrack Awards / Interview ::

Cinezik: You are the guest of honor at the World Soundtrack Awards, what does this honor mean to you?

Mark Isham : Well, it’s very rewarding. It’s a prestigious party I’ve heard about for years. Therefore, being invited is a great honor for me and it is also very exciting to have a world-class orchestra playing my music. I’m even going to play with them on certain clips, so it’s all very exciting!

Your career path is quite atypical insofar as you have developed two parallel jobs: jazz improviser and film music composer. How do these two worlds come together for you?

middle : During the first twenty years of my career, I was able to strike a balance between the two. Then the music industry changed, I had kids and it became more interesting for me to work at home and watch my kids grow up rather than touring. Then the world of jazz changed and it became difficult for me to continue with my style. I keep recording from time to time but the cinema takes up a lot of my time, and I’m very happy with it. The two universes feed each other well in the end. Improvisation takes the anxiety off the blank page. When I’m up on stage and have to improvise in front of an audience, I can’t stand a shortage of ideas. It’s the same thing when I have to compose music late at night: I simply play. Being creative in the moment as a jazz artist gives me some confidence as a composer.

This should help a lot with the very tight deadlines in movie music. Do you improvise your movie music or do you have time to come back to it afterwards?

middle : I’m still taking the time to go back to it because it’s one thing to be able to compose in real time but you have to make sure the music fits the scene. If the music just matches the timing of the scene, that’s where the more intellectual part comes in and you have to define things in a more realistic way.

When composing music for a movie, at what point would you prefer to start working? be-Are you more inspired by reading the text or by looking at the pictures?

I am: I love reading the script, but I’m already starting to get involved when the movie is edited fairly elaborately. I was most impressed with the images and the actors who embody their characters. So I start when the director feels that the film he has edited better reflects the story he wants to tell.

We know that film editing often requires the use of temporary music (see Temp Track), which can often become a burden for composers. How do you manage this parameter? ?

I am: I’m trying to get things out of it and have very specific discussions with directors and editors about it. When a director tells me:This Temp Track is perfect, there is nothing to change“I try to lead him to think of possible alternatives. Are they really crazy about this flute? Do they really like this violin coming in at such a time? And if we try to get it in a little earlier? Few realize that temporary music can be modified and improved, and thus you can create something original I try to keep the elements that make it work well while trying to improve it in my own way.

to gather And in the middle flows a river It showcased Celtic music that made sense to you at the end and helped lay the groundwork for this soundtrack. So there are instances where temporary music can be your friend too, I guess?

I am: Sure, temporary music can be your friend. An author can write five different soundtracks for a movie without any of them working, representing months of work, while one can test five different pitch scores in a week and determine the musical essence of the movie. So it can be a very valuable business tool.

Is it easier to work when you regularly work with a director, like Robert Redford, for example?

I am: I think yes. When you are aware of the artists’ tastes and how they communicate, it definitely helps. As you know, it is mostly about communication and being able to express your thoughts and accept the ideas of others. The better the relationship with a person and the more you understand how they communicate, the better. I’ve done four films with Mr. Redford and he’s been great at communicating, and I think that’s one of the reasons he’s so successful.

For you, what has changed the most in the movie music scene since you started forty years ago?

I am: Oh my gosh… well, technology has changed a lot already. When I started, computers weren’t complete tools yet. So I made my models on tape, which took a lot of time and effort. Now, we compose directly with the sounds that will be used in the final mix. Very few people write music on paper these days. We’re really in the age of computers to compose now. Perhaps this is what has changed the most. Now, in terms of telling a story, I would say it has stayed the same. Storytelling is storytelling. Managers have the same interests and concerns as they did forty years ago. My function of amplifying sadness or joy in the scene has remained the same and will never change.

What, in your opinion, is the number one quality a movie music composer should have?

I am: I think above all is the ability to communicate, to accept what others tell you, to be willing to interact with them, to make your point without fighting and to make it heard. It goes without saying that you must know how to compose well. But this talent can only be demonstrated by the way you work with others.

Did you already have this ability to work with others when you started or did you have to develop this quality over time?

I am: I think I made some mistakes early on and that taught me things. Today, I think I understand this criterion much better, allowing me to help and guide my partners to make their film a success.

This year, I went back to the cinema with “black light” (by Mark Williams) And the “Talent of pure gold” (From Tom GormicanWith Nicholas Cage). You must have enjoyed!

I am: Yes, action movies are hard work but making them is so much fun. There is a lot of adrenaline and subtle and rhythmic songs to compose. So my work is very mathematical in sync with images but also requires an artistic part. So it is very durable but fun.

When it comes to composing a melody, do you have a certain modus operandi? Are you closer to your first instrument, the trumpet?

I am: Recently, I have been composing mainly on the piano. If I have to compose a melodious syllable, I take a sheet of music and a pencil and sit at my grandmother’s piano. Once upon a time, my horn was on my desk with a microphone, so I could record myself on the trumpet to tune. But in recent years, I mainly use the piano because it allows me to find harmonies. And sometimes I start with a string cascade because it gives you instant emotion. Three minute chords can determine your emotional state. If I can find those strings, the melodies will start arriving on their own and I’ll keep the song that seems to me the most relevant.

For you, what is the hardest and most difficult aspect of this job Satisfying ?

I am: The hardest part is managing how many people have an say in your business. You’ve often noticed that the higher your movie budget, the more people will watch what you’re doing. In independent films, I only work with the director who has carte blanche because the producer trusts him. When you make a Marvel movie, the specifications must be met to meet the expectations of an audience of 50 million people. So you have to understand that and be prepared to deal with it. The director may be happy with your work, but then the three producers of the film should be happy too. But, again, if you can communicate, you can get away with it. The most satisfying moment is when the orchestra plays your music for the first time. When you’re in a beautiful studio of 85 musicians and hear your music for the first time, it’s still exhilarating. This is why the idea of ​​going to Ghent to hear the Orchester Philharmonique de Bruxelles play my music is simply exhilarating.

What are your plans for the future?

I am: Currently, I am working on a movie called “TStreet hAunt ” (Note: The Gary Fleder horror movie is scheduled to be released in the US in January 2023) as well as “shooting stars” (Note: Written by LeBron James, the basketball star who adapted his memoir, for Universal Studios.)

• Watch the exchange video (via YouTube)

Event: World Soundtrack Awards 2022: Mark Isham, Bruno Colais and Ninita Desai on the show • October 22, 2022

• Released on CD: “Mark Isham – Music for Films”

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